I remember being pregnant and wondering what will my days look like and who I will spend them with – cause I didn’t know any other expecting moms and didn’t know anyone in the area. As it turned out, there are tons of stuff you can do with a baby under one – so I will write a series of posts covering various classes and activities that Timothy and I enjoyed (or not) together.
One of the first activities we joined was from Ontario Early Years Centres – we are lucky to have one of those within five minutes walk.
When Timothy was 4 weeks old, we went for the first time to see what it’s all about – and we loved it.
Located in a community centre, a big room was brightly decorated with murals, a colourful rug on the floor, lots of toys and breastfeeding cushions. Moms gathered from 1 pm till 1:30 pm, sat in a circle on the floor, spread their blankies, put their little ones in front of them, and chatted away,
At 1:30 pm the light went off for a second to draw attention – and then we started with the songs and nursery rhymes. Two lovely ladies lead all the singing, and every now and then we interrupted the singing to go around the room and introduce ourselves, share new milestones, and ask for advice.
There are, in fact, two groups: for babies aged 0-6 months and for those 7-12 months (in Canada we are blessed to have a year long paid maternity leave). Not all programs are split up like that, and I heard the ones that have all the babies in one group are quite chaotic for the little ones: moms need to be vigilant so that some 12-month old tot won’t hurt your helpless 4-week-old.
The songs are all accompanied with gestures, some of them depicting the song (wheels go round and round), some of them taken form the American Sign Language (“eat”, “more”, etc.) – which is used in some Canadian daycares and individually by parents for better communication with the smallest ones. I will talk more about ASL in one of my future posts.
Once or twice a month, a guest speaker comes: a dietitian, a breastfeeding expert, a sleep expert, nanny and daycare providers, etc. They share some info, answer questions, leave leaflets and business cards behind. Some of them are helpful, others – not so much.
Even at 4 weeks, Timothy turned out to be mature enough to look at me for the whole hour (that’s how long the “class” lasts) – I was amazed! At home, he never stayed awake that long, let alone alert and focused. So I realized I needed to do more songs and rhymes with him. Again, this program came in very handy teaching me a wide variety of songs and movements that go along with them (this was awesome especially since I grew up in a different country/culture/language environment; even itsy-bitsy spider was new to me).
We have now graduated to the 7-12 months group – it’s a different scene. No more blankies, no more babies falling asleep on breastfeeding cushions. Most are cruising, crawling and even walking. It’s chaotic and noisy – and fun! And at the end of each month there is a small graduation ceremony and a happy birthday song for the little ones leaving us, their moms’ one-year-long matleaves coming up to the end. In three months’ time, that will be us. First “graduation”. That makes me sad…
Anyway, like I said, this is my first post on activities for moms and babies. Stay tuned – more to come!
If you live in Ontario, here you can find a centre close to your home. Although I was told that no two clubs are the same; some are better, some worse.
Other posts on Activities with babies: